Whether it’s an end-of-year work celebration, Christmas lunch, a party to bring in the New Year or the sudden spike in weddings, race days and dinner dates that seem to take place over the summer, the festive season can be the perfect time to express your style.
Don’t worry, though – there are plenty of ways to find an outfit for every occasion without breaking the budget.
Do you find yourself shopping for a new dress every time you have an event? So did Shellharbour businesswoman Michelle Taylor, so she created a solution.
“I come from a big European family, so for us, every event you had to wear two dresses,” Michelle said. “It got to the stage where my husband said ‘that’s enough, you’re not buying anything new’, so I thought I’d start a business then.”
A decade ago, she started Get Dressed Hire out of a spare room in her house, now she has a successful shop out of Shellharbour with hundreds of designer items that are sent across the country.
“I’ve lost track of how many dresses are in store, definitely hundreds, we’ve also got crowns, earrings, handbags, all the fashion accessories, we’re kind of a one-stop-shop,” she said.
By hiring a dress, you not only can receive an outfit at the fraction of its price, but also save on things like dry cleaning and storage.
“Fast fashion is becoming a real problem. At least with us you don’t need to buy a $600 dress every time – you can rent a different one every time and not be seen in the same outfit twice!”
And while you can order online, hiring a dress doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the shopping experience.
“Most of the time when they come in store they have an idea of what they’d like to try on, so we just chat to them about what event they have coming up, what the dress code is, what they feel comfortable in and what they’d like to wear and we work with them to decide what looks best on their body shape and type, what colours work for them and works for the event,” Michelle said.
For those who prefer the idea of owning their item, the rise of sustainable shopping is helping expand options of pre-loved outfits currently on the market.
Recent events like The Gong’s Great Clothes Swap gave people the opportunity to trade in items and refresh their wardrobes, but there is still the opportunity to head along to similar events in the lead-up to Christmas if you’re willing to look outside of the Illawarra, or even consider hosting your own event with family and friends.
Outfits are also going cheap on platforms such as Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace as people try to earn a bit of extra cash to put towards the holiday season.
Local business Rack and Roll Marketplace hopes to make that process even easier for both buyers and sellers.
“We are a marketplace that is focused on giving back the power to the owners of preloved items by offering them platforms where they can sell,” founder Samia Salamanca said.
“We noticed that a lot of people wanted to get rid of their items but sometimes putting them on places like Facebook Marketplace was just too hard to organise a meeting, especially with scams happening so often.”
Samia said the business takes three approaches to help keep items from landfill: hosting monthly markets where people can sell their items as is, online through the website, or in the soon-to-be-launched Bellambi store.
“Those items that we sell on both platforms are curated and hand-picked, so we make sure that we only take items that don’t have pulls or stains and smell good and are in really good condition,” Samia said.
Many items have barely even been touched.
“We want to change people’s opinions on second-hand and pre-loved – it doesn’t mean that it’s not in a good condition or not a good item,” Samia said.
Off the back of spring cleaning and decluttering, people who chose not to go to the effort to sell likely donated their quality goods to a charitable organisation like Vinnies.
Regional retail manager Miranda Seaegg said there has been an increase in people shopping for Christmas party outfits and gifts at this time of year, and you never know what hidden treasures could be in your local store.
“We get in everything and anything in between,” Miranda said.
“Because our stock is based on donation it means that we really do get that wide range in variety and it covers anything that you find in anyone’s wardrobe.”
Retail purchases help fund critical programs and services offered by the organisation, so not only can you save for yourself, but you can also feel good about helping your community.
There are now even more ways to shop with Vinnies as a new store is opening at Stockland Shellharbour.
“Once we’ve sorted and priced and displayed our items there is a really great offering and good quality products for our customers,” Miranda said.
If you insist on buying new, explore what offers your local retailers may provide.
Many popular shops have loyalty programs that can help save and some, such as H&M, may give you a discount if you donate old clothes.
By selling items in your wardrobe that have just been gathering dust, you can help to fund your new purchase and even give a new option for someone looking to impress at parties this season.